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Robot Chicken: Please Stop Greenlighting, Adult Swim

by on February 18, 2005

Robot Chicken is Adult Swim’s latest disaster piece of a Newgrounds fallout to air on its pitiful Sunday night lineup. And it’s amazing that there is still no justification for stop motion animation on TV, going as far back as Gumby or Land of the Lost. I’m not dissing the medium, but even after decades no one has put it to good use. When your best offering is THE PJs, maybe it’s time to move on to something else. Try spin-art.

Seth Green, who apparently has a lot of time on his hands with no career outside of Austin Powers and the latest generic college slacker flick, dances his action figure collection around for the whole world to see, instead of his parents, like I imagine he did when he was five years old and more appropriately aged to be doing this. Not that the action figure of choice really seems to matter. They have no context in the script. Rather than actually write clever parodies of the toys’ source material, Green uses Optimus Prime and Teletubbies to enact bad MAD TV material. I mean if you laugh at Tinky Winky smoking a joint, something that would have possibly been funny in 1999, then feel free to jump in front of a bus.

What makes this show so insulting is that the stop-motion elements are good. The timing is great. However, we’re not looking at clay figures, we’re looking at action figures, essentially puppets. It’s not really animation that I could marvel at. Worse, the production value of every aspect of this show screams “I AM NOT READY FOR TELEVISION.” Robot Chicken originated in a webtoon on Sony’s now-defunct Flash Portal. It’d be a lie to tell you it has improved since then. It carries with it to television all of the things you hate about bad web cartoons: hushed, awkward voice acting, story concepts brainstormed by 12-year-olds, no sense of quality control, and direction that does not know when to give up on a bad joke, stretching each one into infinity.

Nothing illustrates this point better than the six-minute “Bloopers” skit in Sunday’s episode. It starts off being not funny, and it successfully rapes your soul by the end. Every single joke is telegraphed, from the “animal goes wild” joke to the ceaselessly stupid “host hangs himself” closer. Has there ever been a stretch of dead air this long? From an adult cartoon that pitches itself as “frenetically fast,” this is inexcusable.

Robot Chicken embodies everything Adult Swim thinks audiences want. You can find pieces of Sealab 2021, Stroker and Hoop, the “Dreams” episode of Space Ghost, and Adult Swim’s own needlessly smug textual bumpers in this show. And that’s depressing. This show is climatically retarded; it builds and builds until you can’t even be amused at its awfulness.

If you’re not staring at your TV dumbly by the end of the program, then congratulations, you’re easily amused! You probably think Will Ferrell is a comic genius! For the rest of us, you know, INTELLIGENT people, come join me. I will build us a boat and we can sail away from this alienating TV universe. It will be a magical journey, and anyone who says “Bizarroooooo!!” or “Move every zig” will be pushed overboard.

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